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  May 14, 2001

New Gowns Give UConn's Doctoral
Graduates a Distinctive Look

Graduate Commencement Exercises on May 20 will sport a subtle indication of UConn's rise to national prominence - for the first time, faculty who hold doctorates from UConn and students will have the opportunity to wear distinctive academic regalia, specific to UConn, as they march across the floor of the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.

More than 30 of the students at the ceremony have purchased the new regalia, which are more plush and far more distinctive than the traditional black gown worn in the past. The new robes, made by Oak Hall Industries of Salem, Va., are a deep navy blue wool and velveteen material, crowning each front panel with an embroidered, gold UConn oak-leaf logo. The accompanying hoods, edged in the academic color appropriate for the degree, bear the University's color of national flag blue, with a white chevron on the inside of the hood. The caps are six-point tams of navy blue with gold tassels.

"The goal was to design a robe that was recognizable from a distance of many feet, that people will know is worn by someone with a UConn doctoral degree," says Thomas Peters, assistant dean for graduate student affairs. Peters has led the charge to design a UConn robe almost since the day he arrived in Storrs nearly 23 years ago.

"We've been talking to the designers at Oak Hall since at least 1991, but until UConn began using the oak-leaf design it was never clear how we could make the robes distinctive," Peters says.

"Universities like Harvard, Columbia, Boston University ... they all have distinctive designs embroidered right into the velvet, as do various state universities, including Michigan and Rutgers," Peters adds. "The only possibility we had - until the oak leaf - was the state seal, and that was too busy for us to design clearly."

Although it's too late to order the new regalia for this year's ceremonies, Peters says UConn faculty who hold UConn doctorates and graduate students may order the robes for next year through the UConn Co-op. The regalia, including robe, hood and tam, currently sell for $761, not including tax or shipping.

Richard Veilleux

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